||Changes of State
by Louise LONGO
A case could be made that the power of Gary Geddes's poetry lies in his ability to get at the essential, the childlike or radically simple. It's a difficult thing to risk (and handle well) but in Changes of State he scores a definite victory.
For example, echoes of Robert Frost and Robert Bly pervade his quiet, lovely, halkulike lyric "Not Out of the Woods Yet":
there is a story
about to unfold.
I can feel it
it is gentle,
and always in flight.
The variety of work included here is worth noting. In "The White Flag," Geddes captures remarkably the voice of a farm woman - her history, sexuality, and isolation -in a long narrative poem that is charged with. drama and compassion.
A number of the poems in the fist section arse set in China, among them "To the Women of the Fo Share Silk Commune," from which the title of the book is taken:
Fear not the transformations you must face
changes of state.
The cocoon of love arrestsyou
for a time, In Its silken embrace.
You will endure it. You wilt emerge,
your smile threadbare but intact.
A new beauty awaits you
at every turn.
Geddes gives an interesting cultural portrait of China and Canada by examining their respective relationships to their art and artmakers. He concludes that poetry, the "testament of love" recalls us (man), is our gentler moments, in a way that history never quite seems to.
Changes of State covers a lot of ground, all of it exceptionally well.